Chernobyl exploded and Three Mile Island missed by a
whisker. They both killed people.
But 30 years after the Pennsylvania meltdown, a Soviet-style
Iron Curtain has formed between the corporate media and the alternatives, with
nuclear power at its center.
The Soviets denied for days that the Chernobyl accident had
happened at all. America�s parallel corporate media says �no one died at TMI.�
Take National Public Radio�s Scott Simon. On March 28, Simon
smirked on air that �no one was killed or injured� at Three Mile Island, �not
so much as a sprained ankle.�
Except when people are fleeing them, as they did 30 years
ago, radiation releases have never been linked directly to joint sprains.
But cancer, leukemia, birth defects, stillbirths,
malformations, spontaneous abortions, skin lesions, hair loss, respiratory
problems, sterility, nausea, cataracts, a metallic taste, premature aging,
general loss of bodily function and more can be caused by radioactive emissions
of the type that poured out of TMI. And all such ailments have been documented
there OUTside the corporate media.
Simon and everyone else INside the corporate media missed
the well-organized, well-executed press event in the statehouse at Harrisburg
on March 26. Despite solid publicity from Eric Epstein and the long-standing
Three Mile Island Alert, not a single corporate reporter covered presentations
by nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen and University of North Carolina
epidemiologist Dr. Stephen Wing.
Once a top industry executive, Gundersen has shown that the
containment at Three Mile Island Unit 2 did not completely hold, and that far more
radiation was released than previously believed.
Dr. Wing reports that levels of radiation-related disease
significantly rose in the downwind area. Wing and three co-authors looked at
statistics used in a major study by Columbia University and other sources. They
concluded that -- despite official denials -- the numbers clearly indicate
serious potential health effects.
Gundersen and Wing were neither hiding nor alone. University
of Pittsburgh radiology Professor Emeritus Dr. Ernest Sternglass and health
researchers Joe Mangano and Jay Gould have long since documented that public
health catastrophe. House-to-house surveys from local residents Jane Lee and
Mary Osborne confirm the damage. Massive anecdotal evidence collected in a book
and radio show by Robbie Leppzer appears at www.turningtide.com. Published in
1982 by DellDelta, KILLING OUR OWN,
correlated the death toll at TMI with that from other misuses of radiation.
Other books have followed with similar conclusions.
This tidal wave of proof about the TMI death toll spread
through the �alternative� media prior to the accident�s anniversary. Democracy
Now!�s Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales talked with me about it on March 27.
Announced by the Institute for Public Accuracy, the story appeared on the
Pacifica and Counterspin/Fair radio networks, and with Peter B. Collins on the
Thom Hartmann Show. It was also heard on stations such as WORT (Madison), KBOO
(Oregon), KDKA (Pittsburgh), radioornot.com, and more. Websites like Huffington
Post, CommonDreams, Alternet, FreePress.org, NukeFree, CounterPunch, BuzzFlash,
Smirking Chimp, Daily Kos, and dozens more got the story out, as did
environmental groups like Greenpeace, NIRS and Beyond Nuclear. (If your
website, radio show or organization also carried it, please contact me).
But the word never crossed the conceptual chasm between the �mainstream�
media and the �alternative.� Despite a federal class action lawsuit filed by 2,400
Pennsylvania families claiming damages from the accident, despite at least $15
million quietly paid to parents of children with birth defects, despite three
decades of official admissions that nobody knows how much radiation escaped
from TMI, where it went or who it affected, not a mention of the fact that
people might have been killed there made its way into a corporate report.
Nuclear opponents commemorated the day throughout the United
States -- most visibly at the gates of the plant itself -- while Simon and
others piously intoned that the opposition was dead and gone.
Simon concluded his 11-minute smarm by interviewing Dan
Reicher from Google, whose �green� vision somehow includes new reactors. Not a
peep was allowed from an epic grassroots No Nukes movement that has sustained
itself nonstop (and nonviolently) since long before TMI melted, and is as
strong as ever.
From the Associated Press and other corporate outlets, the
parroted mantra that �nobody was killed� rang out as if a meltdown was no big
deal, and turning a $900 million asset into a multi-billion-dollar liability
was a �success story.�
Few assertions more clearly divide our parallel media
universes than this one. Stolen elections and WMD, corporate thievery and
hemp/marijuana prohibition are all part of the Great Divide. But people (and
animals) dying unreported in our most infamous industrial accident cut to the
heart of our disinformational
Newspapers and TV networks are dying because they cannot
attract advertisers because they are losing audience.
In some ways, we will miss them. But their self-interested
omissions and deceptions have disemboweled their usefulness. Even the legendary
CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite bought into the line that there was no danger
of an explosion at TMI that week.
But in fact there was. Was the omission due to haste in a
murky nightmare? A fear of causing panic? A fear of retribution from major
sponsors? Or merely an unhealthy willingness to take the authorities at their
Whatever the case, the bad news is that the dominant media
cannot handle this story and too many others like it. Millions of Americans are
thus dangerously misinformed.
The good news is, there is new media -- including wherever
you�re now reading this -- that WILL report it. And that�s growing stronger
because it reports the truth to power.
Izvestia and Pravda are still being televised. But people
did die at Three Mile Island. And it�s the �alternative� media that now brings
reality to the mainstream.
Harvey Wasserman edits NukeFree.org and is senior editor of FreePress.org, where this article originally appeared.
His books, including SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH, are available at harveywasserman.com.